President Obama Should Address LGBT Rights During Visit with Pope Francis

Washington, D.C.– Human Rights First and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights today urged President Obama to address LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) issues during his audience with Pope Francis scheduled for March 27. The call came in a letter to President Obama encouraging his continued leadership in promoting the human rights of LGBT people at a time when LGBT people in many nations around the world are being arrested, attacked, and “outed” in situations that make them vulnerable to violence.

“Your meeting with Pope Francis is a rare opportunity to join with another influential moral leader to lay down a marker on the universal value of human dignity,” wrote Human Rights First’s Elisa Massimino and RFK Center’s Kerry Kennedy. “There are LGBT persons—along with human rights defenders—in every country in the world who are standing up for their basic human rights, often at great risk. A powerful public statement from you and Pope Francis would signal solidarity with them, help to promote greater tolerance and, most importantly, condemn violence regardless of differing views about sexuality.“

Human Rights First and the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights urge President Obama to encourage Pope Francis to take the opportunity during his planned trip to Uganda to raise the issue of criminalization and the need to prevent anti-LGBT violence directly with the political, religious and cultural leadership of a country where these are central issues. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni recently signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which subjects Uganda’s LGBT community to criminal sanctions based on their identity.

Egregious intolerance and violence against LGBT people persists where laws criminalizing homosexuality or the activities of LGBT people and restricting the human rights of those organizing in the LGBT community are in place or under consideration. Human Rights First continues to urge the United States to demonstrate leadership on global LGBT rights by working to stop passage of further discriminatory laws and promote the protection of LGBT rights as human rights worldwide.


Published on March 24, 2014


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